Magnets made of just a few metallic atoms could make it possible to build radically smaller storage devices and have also recently been proposed as components for spintronics devices. There's just one obstacle on the way. Nano-sized magnets have only been seen to work at temperatures a few hairs above absolute zero.
"When you take a look at the periodic table of the elements the solution seems obvious. Ruthenium and osmium are in the same group in the periodic table as iron, so it ought to be possible to create magnets out of these substances as well by using our knowledge about molecular magnets based on iron" says Pedersen.
"The chemical properties are the same for these metals as for iron. But the physical properties of the new magnets turned out to be very different from those made of iron. Basically, the magnetism arises from the electron spin but also from the motion of the electron around the nucleus. The latter contribution, which is very large for ruthenium, osmium and other heavy elements, has been largely ignored by the scientific community but we have now shown, experimentally, that is a very pronounced effect. And this is utterly new and exciting", explains Kasper Steen Pedersen.Not quite a breakthrough
Some of his results have been published in Chem. Eur. J. 2010, 16, 13458-13464
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